How to Set Up Bills When Renting For the First Time

Guide Articles Jun 13, 2022

Paying bills is something no one enjoys thinking about, especially when you’re moving into a rental for the first time.

Moving out is exciting, but organising your bills isn’t the most fun part.

Thankfully, while it may not be fun, setting up bills when renting for the first time is easier than it sounds.

If you’re moving into a rental for the first time, here’s your first-time renters’ guide on how to set up bills when renting.

What Bills Do Renters Pay UK?

Generally, you’ll have to pay for all your bills when you rent.

Some landlords provide “all-inclusive” rent, which means they cover everything and you pay them back, but this is rare. It creates extra admin for them if you can’t pay and they have to chase your debts.

Plus, this isn’t always the best option for renters since the landlord may charge an admin fee for the extra responsibilities.

If you pay for bills yourself in a rental, you’ll typically have to cover:

  • Energy (gas and electricity)
  • Water and sewage
  • Council tax
  • Entertainment services, like broadband, TV, landline, or subscription services

Your tenancy agreement should state which bills are included in your rent.

Some landlords provide Wi-Fi “free of charge” to tenants, but be wary of this. You’ll typically be paying for it somewhere in your rent costs.

Plus, it may not be a good connection speed, which could be vital if you work from home or stream regularly.

Related article: What to look for in a new rental as a remote worker

How to Set Up Bills in a Rented House or Apartment

Your first step is always to find out what bills you are responsible for. Check your lease to see which bills are and aren’t included in your rent.

If your lease says you are responsible for all utilities, this usually means you need to organise and pay for your own:

  • Gas
  • Electricity
  • Water
  • Council tax
  • Wi-Fi (as required)
  • TV and/or landline (as required)
  • TV license (as required)

These bills are in addition to your rent and service charge payments unless stated otherwise in your tenancy agreement.

Remember, if you watch live TV or have access to it (through a subscription or OnDemand service), you’ll still need a TV license even if you don’t pay for a TV service.

Check the full TV license rules for tenants to learn more.

Related article: What bills do I have to pay when renting?

How to Set Up Gas & Electricity (Energy) Bills When Renting

Here’s a quick and easy guide on how to set up gas and electricity bills in a rental when renting for the first time.

1. Find Out Who Your Energy Supplier Is

Your new rental should already be set up with an energy company from the previous owners or tenants.

You’ll need to ask the landlord or letting agent to find out who you’re with.

Or you can use the find my energy supplier tool on the Ofgem website.

2. Take a Meter Reading

It’s important to take a meter reading on your first day in the property to avoid paying for energy used by the previous tenants.

Taking a meter reading sounds complicated, but it’s easier than it seems.

First, you need to locate your gas and electricity meters, which are usually found in a cupboard or next to your boiler. Each meter may be in a different place. If you live in a flat, they may be in a communal area.

If you aren’t sure where your meters are, ask your landlord or letting agent. Sometimes, you need a key to access them, so ask your letting agent about this, too.

Once you’ve found your meter, jot down the numbers shown and send them to your energy supplier. You can usually do this by creating an account and filling in an online form.

3. Find a Suitable Tariff

To avoid paying more than you need to for your energy, it’s best to find a suitable tariff in your first 1-2 weeks of moving in.

When you first move into a property, energy suppliers usually place you on their “standard” tariff, which is often more expensive than their other services.

You can either call your existing energy supplier to find the best deal or use a price comparison website to switch to a better company/tariff.

Your current energy supplier should tell you what you’re currently paying via your online account. You can use this information to compare the different prices.

Switching is usually very easy to do (online or via the phone) as the company you’re moving to will handle everything once you’ve entered your details.

How to Set Up Water Bills in a Rental

Water bills in the UK work differently to energy payments.

Instead of being able to choose which company you pay, all UK households have just one water provider for their area. This makes setting up your water bills much easier than most other bills.

It also means you don’t have to do any comparing or switching to find a better deal during your tenancy since there’s no one else to move to!

Water bills also refer to both your water supply and the management of sewage in your area. Sometimes, you’ll have a different supplier for your water and sewage.

Related article: How to move from one rental to another

1. Find Your Local Water Supplier

Water UK, which represents all UK water services, recommend landlords’ notify them when a property has changed tenants, so your water supplier should already be aware that you’ve moved in.

Ask your landlord or letting agent if they’ve already done this for you.

If they have, you should receive a letter from your water supplier within a few days or weeks of moving in.

When they contact you, they’ll tell you what you need to do to set up an account and arrange regular payments, both of which can be done online.

If your landlord hasn’t notified your water supplier, you can contact the company yourself to let them know you’re living in the property.

Find your local water supplier via WaterUK.

2. Give a Meter Reading

Some rental properties are on a water meter, while others pay a fixed rate.

Paying for water on a meter is usually cheaper than paying a fixed rate, but it can vary per property.

If you think a water meter will lead to cheaper bills for you, UK law states that a landlord cannot prevent you from choosing a water meter in certain circumstances.

If you have a water meter, submit a reading to your supplier as soon as possible after moving in.

Otherwise, you could be charged for water used by previous tenants.

Ask your landlord or letting agent where your water meter is if you’re unsure.

You can usually find out how to read a water meter and submit a reading from your suppliers’ website. You’ll need to register or create an account to do this.

Related article: A renters’ checklist: Things to do when you first move in

How to Set Up Council Tax When You’re Renting

Setting up council tax bills when you rent is very easy. All you need to do is find your local council and notify them that you’ve moved in.

They’ll either send you a letter or invite you to fill in an online form to arrange your council tax payments.

Make sure you check for any discounts you may be eligible for, like if you’re a single occupant or a student.

How to Set Up Entertainment Bills When Renting For the First Time

Unless you’re living in the dark ages, you probably want to pay for some kind of “entertainment” services, such as broadband, a TV service, a landline and/or subscription service (like Netflix).

Provided you know what you want, these services are relatively easy to set up.

Here’s how to set up your entertainment bills:

  • Broadband – Contact a supplier or use a price comparison website to find a suitable deal that meets your needs
  • TV/landline – Contact a supplier or use a price comparison website to find a deal that suits you
  • TV license – Pay for your TV license online via the TV license website
  • Subscription services – Organise directly via your chosen services

Related article: 40+ First home essentials every new renter needs

How to Save Money On Bills When Moving Rental

Renting can be expensive in the UK, so saving money on bills where you can is often a top priority for most tenants.

If you want to cut your monthly costs, here are a few things you can do to save money on bills in a rental.

Related article: How to save for a deposit when renting

1. Switch Energy Tariff Quickly

When you first move in, most energy suppliers will place you on a standard tariff, which is often more expensive than any of their other tariffs.

We know you’re busy when you first move in but try to make it a priority to switch to a different tariff or company as quickly as possible. It’ll help you avoid high, unnecessary monthly charges.

2. Switch to a Water Meter

You can’t switch water suppliers, but depending on how much water you use in your rental, switching to a water meter could save you money.

Check whether your water bills could be cheaper using the UK Water Meter Calculator.

You’ll need to notify your landlord or letting agent before switching.

Remember, UK law states that landlords can’t refuse your switch to a water meter as long as you meet various requirements like paying the water bills and your lease is for longer than 6 months.

3. Pay By Direct Debit

Paying via direct debit is often the best way to pay for your bills. It’s easy and ensures you never miss a payment.

Plus, most suppliers offer you a discount when you pay via direct debit (rather than manually when your bill arrives) because it’s more efficient.

You can usually pay your bills either monthly or quarterly via direct debit.

4. Switch to Online Bills

Some energy companies and TV/landline/broadband suppliers offer you a discount if you request online bills rather than paper bills.

This means they’ll send you an email rather than a letter when they have something important to tell you, like when your contract is renewing or if you need to submit a meter reading.

You can usually switch to online bills quickly and easily via your online accounts.

5. Pay Annually

If you can, try to pay certain bills annually rather than monthly.

For example, when paying for your TV license, a discount is offered when you pay for the year rather than monthly.

If you purchase contents insurance to protect your belongings, you can usually save money paying annually on this, too.

6. Use a Lifetime Deposit

Paying your rental deposit isn’t exactly a bill, but it is something you need to pay for before you move in.

Lifetime Deposits are a solution for renters that move home with you, so if you’re moving from one rental to another, your deposit moves with you.

Learn more about Lifetime Deposits and how they can help moving renters.

Related article: How to decide if a Lifetime Deposit is right for you

7. Shop Around

When it’s time to renew your contract with your energy supplier or broadband company, shopping around for a better deal is the best way to save money.

You can usually do this by calling your supplier and/or using a price comparison website.

8. Check For Discounts

You know your situation better than anyone else, so do your research to check what discounts you could apply for.

For example, council tax is offered at a discounted rate for students or if you’re a single occupant.

Or, if you work from home, you may be able to claim some money back on your energy bills.

Speak to your bill companies or research online to find out what other discounts you may be eligible for.

Moving to a New Rental?

You no longer need to save up for a deposit every time you move.

For the first time ever, if you already have a deposit protected in a deposit scheme, you can transfer it to your next property.

A Lifetime Deposit will help you keep hold of £1,200 on average, which we think is pretty neat.

We are on a mission to help more people move, so if you are moving soon, don’t forget your Lifetime Deposit!

Get a Lifetime Deposit: Get started

Will Southall

If you're a renter, we've got your back. This corner of the Fronted site is loaded with everything from moving tips, Lifetime Deposits, and anything you need to make renting, or moving, a breeze.